July 1, 2013
My stressed level seemed to increase weekly, no matter how many hours of sleep a night I had. Usually I had to take a nap when I got home from work. I tried to take all of the substitute jobs I could. The local vocational technical school was always in need of subs. I was a good disciplinarian and respected by teachers and students. I still remember feeling fine when I walked into the school building. But climbing up to the 2nd floor left me huffing and puffing. It was either 1st or 2nd period and I felt my chest tightening. I had difficult time breathing. It felt more like a bad case of bronchitis without the coughing. The kick was how rapidly I started having chest pains, sharp stabbing pains. At that time, women were not the same as men when it came to having a heart attack.
I had a student go to the office with a note saying I gotten really sick and needed to leave immediately. I would try to stay until another adult came to take over the classroom. I certainly did not want to put a cramp in any future job offers. I drive myself home. One of my sons was still at home at that time and just barely had his license. He was in school when I called an ambulance. They carried me downstairs in a chair, off we went. This period of time still has some fuzzy spots in it. Recently my son told me he remembered taking me to the hospital, more than once. But this was the first time. I must've called him at school and told him I was going to the hospital. I remember him telling me at first he thought the whole thing was really cool getting to drive fast behind an ambulance with sirens and flashing lights. After that, not so much.
Well, I did not have a heart attack thankfully. The diagnosis was acute pericarditis. There is a sack, around your heart called the pericardium. When he gets inflamed it is called pericarditis. The pericardium holds the heart in place. Pericarditis is usually caused by an infection. A viral infection is the most common cause. Although a serious heart condition, with proper care, full recovery is possible for most people.
They put me in intensive care in the hospital. I was pretty sick and really had not wanted to see or talk to a bunch of people. The priest and my son and a BFF were good enough. Next door was a patient who always had company from breakfast to 10 PM. It sounded like a party. When I started to come back into the real world, I complained-please shut those people up. This was supposed to be a place for really sick people. The nursing staff enforced quiet hours and the number of visitors. But the neighbors were not my only problem. This was about the time health insurance companies were starting to be primarily in a profit making business mode as opposed to the healthcare business. I was admitted into intensive care in the early evening. After one full day the insurance company was ready to boot me out and send me home. My doctor and the nurses were flipping out. I was in no shape to put up a fight. I knew I did not want my 16-year-old son to have to worry about taking care of me, or worry that I might die. It took some creative coding by the medical staff to get me an additional day. However, I had to be transferred out of intensive care to a regular unit.
It was 12 years before I returned to substitute teaching. I did manage to keep up with a couple of days a week working at the department store. This was until one day I got out of bed and fell on the floor because of the stabbing and burning in my feet. I felt like I was walking on shards of broken glass. It was about this time that my cousin said, you need to think about filing for disability. I was raised to believe that with an education and hard work, you should be able to get a good job and support your family. I had never experienced living with a chronically ill person, let alone being one. My world was rapidly crashing around me. However, I was not going to give up the fight